TaaRaa! Introducing the JAWBONE – the latest gadget to track your lifestyle, count calories, hours slept, steps taken and distances covered – cute – just have to remember to take it off before I dive into the swimming pool.
So, having inadvertently spent the night in a Christian Guild Hotel (Booking.com never mentioned it and I just thought it was cheap) I leave the smiles and good will (breakfast served on round tables laid for 10, no escape) and hurry up the cliff away from Sidmouth.
From the seafront the concrete path winds round a pink cliff – and I find myself on a grassy path trimmed with wooden memorial benches. The hallmark of coastal retirement towns these benches have three functions: to remember the dead, to provide rest for those in need of it and a place to sit and enjoy the view……but sometimes you can have enough of a good thing.
An information board tells me that the rock formations here are of Otter Sandstone and are some of the best examples in the world – my little snap happy camera does not do them justice – they feel ancient – 235 million years old to be exact.
After a while I follow the circuitous path into Budleigh Salterton, the grassy islets of the estuary reminding me of Essex. The beach is pebbly and someone has spent a long time sculpting this heart…….bless.
An enticing path leads to woodland, the roots crossing the path catch my eye – these are real but I remember seeing replicas in bronze coursing through a path at the Yorkshire Sculpture park – the artist called her piece “Speed Breakers”.
The sounds of gunfire had been disturbing me for a while and emerging from the woods I see a military camp on the peninsula in from of me, the familiar red flag flying. Walking down I pass another huge spread of static caravans and wonder at how much peace the inhabitants actually get with a firing squad as neighbours – still each to his own.
I take one more photo of the red cliffs bleeding into the sea behind me and head off for lunch at the next bay – Sandy Bay it’s called and the beach bar and restaurant complex would not look out of place on the Costa Del Sol – despite my thirst I decide to give it a miss but it’s a great sandy beach and for some reason a lot of Welsh accents.
I am nearing Exmouth now and hunger spurs me on – I speed across the top of the cliffs and down into the town for a cheese toastie and a cup of tea. I recognise the lingering traces of a Goth in the owner of the hotel who is really welcoming and sounds just like Alison Steadman in Abbegail’s Party – slightly unnerving. A little later on I take a reconnaissance walk to the harbour where I’ll be taking the ferry tomorrow morning.
My JAWBONE tells me I have walked 11 miles so it must be true.